China: Two Tibetan singers released after serving out four-year prison terms

14 October 2016

On 3 October 2016, Tibetan singers Chakdor and Pema Trinley were released from prison after serving out their four-year sentences in a prison in China’s southwestern Sichuan province and have returned to their hometown, reported Radio Free Asia on 6 October 2016.

An anonymous source told the news outlet that they were welcomed by their “relatives, former prison mates and other supporters” and were offered ceremonial scarves and gifts.

“We welcome the release of Chakdor and Pema Trinley, but note with great concern that it only comes after they served their full four-year sentences,” said Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov. “We call on the Chinese government to immediately release all Tibetan musicians currently imprisoned for their artistic expressions. Singing about an alternative vision for society is not a crime”.

The two singers, who are also cousins, were detained in July 2012 on suspicion of “seditiously splitting the state”, a vague charge Chinese authorities have used on scores of Tibetan artists and activists to silence their artistic freedom and freedom of expression.

Their detention came just days after the release of their album ‘Agony of Unhealed Wounds’, which includes songs about the current situation in Tibet and self-immolation protests, as well as songs in praise of famous Tibetan leaders, such as the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Lobsang Sangay.

In January 2013, the singers were sentenced to four years in prison and three years deprivation of political rights for the recording and distribution of the album. The whereabouts of two artists who collaborated with the singers on the album, musician Khenrap and  lyricist Nyagdompo, remain unknown.

Chakdor is the brother of Choepa, one of three Tibetans who died in a self-immolation protest in their hometown on 10 August 2012.

Since 2013, Freemuse has campaigned for the release of Chakdor and Pema Trinley and continues to campaign for the release of seven other singers who remain imprisoned for their art in China.

Read more about our campaign

Photo: Chakdor (third from right) and Pema Trinley (third from left) after their release/Phayul


» Eurasia Review – 8 October 2016:
China: Two Tibetan singers released after four years in jail

» Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy – 6 October 2016:
Two Tibetans imprisoned for singing songs about self-immolation released after 4 years

» Radio Free Asia – 6 October 2016:
Two Tibetan singers are freed after serving four years for ‘political’ songs

» Phayul – 5 October 2016:
Two Tibetan singers released after 4 years jail

More from Freemuse

» 14 January 2014: UN Special Rapporteur requested to discuss Tibet with Chinese government

» 16 December 2013: China/Tibet: Free jailed Tibetan singers, stars tell China

» 13 June 2013: China: Two Tibetan singers sentenced to two years in prison

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